Families serve as the most central connection to children and youth with disabilities and their role is therefore critical in supporting them through successful transitions throughout their educational careers. Families can set high expectations from the earliest years through partnerships with educators and professionals (e.g., early interventionists, early childhood service providers, general and special education teachers, related service personnel, and vocational rehabilitation counselors), and parent organizations and advocacy groups can provide ongoing advocacy for their children’s needs. Families also play an important role in ensuring that children and youth are meaningfully included and supported within their communities by collaborating with various personnel across the range of the child’s education and services. Families’ engagement with educators, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and service providers makes a difference in developing an individualized education program (IEP) and individualized plan for employment (IPE) that promotes successful transition into adulthood. Families empower their children and youth by offering important insight into their strengths and needs and advocating for services that promote successful transitions and post-school outcomes. Below are resources to help families support successful transitions throughout their children’s educational pathways.
The National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) provides technical assistance (TA) to meet the needs of children and youth with deaf-blindness in key priority areas including identification and referral, family engagement, interveners and qualified personnel, and transition. Its activities are conducted in concert with state deaf-blind projects throughout the U.S. and with national partners. NCDB's website also serves as a hub of information for state deaf-blind projects, families, service providers, and the general public.
Resources from NCDB
Recommendations to Improve Transition Outcomes for Students with Deaf-Blindness and Additional Disabilities
- These recommendations are based on a comprehensive review of laws, policies, and best practices related to transition as well as extensive interviews with experts. Topics include school and adult agency collaboration, work experiences, community activities, qualified personnel, and education for families.
- This "Families Matter" video from the National Center on Deaf-Blindness introduces Jake and his family. They share experiences throughout Jake's life related to communication, literacy, movement, transition, empowerment, and teaming. An important theme of the story is how experiences throughout life are preparation for transition to adulthood.
READY Tool: Readiness Evaluation of Transition to Adulthood for Deaf-Blind Youth
- This tool helps students who are deaf-blind, parents, and professionals determine essential transition activities related to assessment, programming, and team collaboration. Activities are categorized by 4 age groups: prior to age 14, 14 through 17, 18 through 21, and 22 through 26. The completed tool should be used to generate a plan of action and develop goals and objectives for IEPs and transition plans.
The National Center on Inclusion Toward Rightful Presence at SWIFT Education Center provides technical assistance to state and local educational agencies to successfully implement sustainable systems, policies, and practices that cultivate rightful presence for K-12 students, including those with significant cognitive disabilities and English learners. Rightful presence occurs in schools when students, staff, and families throughout the community have a sense of belonging and the power to contribute to educational decisions.
Resources from National Center on Inclusion Toward Rightful Presence at SWIFT Education Center
Transitioning to an Inclusive Setting: Five strategies for districts, schools, and families
- This resource provides a vignette and highlights strategies for the critical transition students increasingly are making from a self-contained, special classrooms to inclusive educational environments.
The National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI) provides strategic technical assistance (TA) to help State Education Agencies (SEAs) refine infrastructures and engage stakeholders to transform systems in order to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) NCSI provides differentiated support through Universal, Targeted, and Intensive technical assistance to states to help them best use their general supervision and professional development (PD) systems to establish and meet high expectations for all students with a disability.
Resource from National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI)
Creating Authentic Partnerships with Historically Marginalized Families and Other Stakeholders: Embracing an Equity Mindset
- Description: Educational systems in this country have been shaped by the influence of White dominant culture, frequently precluding the authentic partnership of families and stakeholders who are vested in the success of historically marginalized students in their communities. This resource describes characteristics associated with White dominant culture as compared to those rooted in an intentional equity mindset. This resource can be used to assess the cultural norms that currently exist and to think about what changes are needed to create authentic opportunities for partnership that can improve learning conditions and outcomes for historically marginalized populations.
The goal of the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: the Collaborative (NTACT:C) is to assist State Education Agencies (SEAs) and State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (SVRAs) as they support Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and service providers to implement effective practices and strategies so that all students and youth with disabilities experience increased: (1) enrollment in postsecondary education, (2) credential attainment, (3) competitive integrated employment, and (4) community engagement. This goal is achieved by building capacity within state agencies to use data-driven decision-making processes, strengthening partnerships to coordinate services and providing quality professional development activities. NTACTC provides information, tools, and supports to assist multiple stakeholders in delivering effective services and instruction for all secondary students and out-of-school youth with disabilities.
Resources from NTACT:C
Practice Descriptions and Predictor Resources or Effective Practices
- Transition education and services should be grounded in quality research. NTACT:C has identified evidence-based and research-based practices that lead to the most successful outcomes. Practitioners can use Practice Descriptions and Lesson Plans to support transition-focused instruction.
Unpacking Assumptions/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- A series of resources on a systems approach to justice, equity, and inclusion initiatives targeting specific marginalized students with disabilities.
Transition Services Across Agencies
- Transition services are mandated and expected to be provided by multiple agencies. This resource is a conversation starter for understanding roles and responsibilities in serving students and young adults as they strive toward successful outcomes.
TIES Center works with states, districts, and schools to support the movement of students with disabilities who have extensive support needs from less inclusive to more inclusive educational environments. Specific outcomes and values underlying each area of TIES Center’s focus as they relate to inclusion as an ongoing commitment to working for the valued membership, active participation, and learning of each student with their age-grade peers are:
- T – Increasing students’ TIME in general education
- I – INSTRUCTIONAL effectiveness
- E – ENGAGEMENT with general education curriculum and age-grade peers
- S – SUPPORT for inclusion at both the state and district level and a shared ethic of thinking inclusion first
Resources from TIES Center
Comprehensive Inclusive Education: General Education and the Inclusive IEP
- This resource and the associated process is based on a vision and expectation that each student can actively participate, belong, contribute, and learn in the school and larger community throughout their entire school experience. With a focus on each and every child as a general education student, even if they qualify for special education services, this resource allows for educational teams, inclusive of families, to support access and progress within the general education curriculum and on the student’s IEP goals. This planning and collaboration ultimately enhances post-school outcomes and capitalizes on the contributions of each student within their schools and communities.
The Power of Peers: Peer Engagement Implementation Guides
- Peers have an influential role in promoting inclusive education for students with extensive support needs in their schools and communities. This resource is a toolbox of educational interventions for educators to promote relationships within inclusive educational settings. Each of these approaches are feasible to implement within schools and communities and are effective at improving the educational experiences and post-school outcomes of students with and without disabilities.
Creating Communities of Belonging for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities
- School should be a place of belonging for each and every student. Belonging is easy to affirm, but much harder to define. This research-based resource provides ten essential dimensions of belonging for students with and without disabilities. The guide helps educational school communities to celebrate, reflect, and create observable, actionable steps to address each of the 10 dimensions, and to promote greater inclusion and belonging in schools and communities. When each of these dimensions are addressed well, schools become learning environments in which students with disabilities thrive and are seen as valued and indispensable members of the school community and beyond.